As performers, we don’t really like to talk about stage fright or performance anxiety, do we? I think it’s high-time that changed. There was a time when I felt afraid to admit that I had problems with it. I used to think, ‘I’m a professional musician. Surely I can just learn to deal with it?’ Almost every audition I did I would come out in tears, knowing that I had let myself down and let my nerves get the better of me. I didn’t know how, but I just knew I had to get some help.
I found that help, and the transformation was incredible. The performance this video clip was taken from was actually my first ever public performance on the piano. It’s the first time I dared to call myself a pianist: I worried that I would get found out for not quite cutting it in the world of piano. After all, I was a professional double bass player and piano was my second instrument. I’d had very minimal formal piano tuition, so who was I to take to the spotlight and perform a public recital? Who’d listen to a technically imperfect pianist?
Well, who was I not to? Who are you not to, either? My performance had memory lapses, mistakes, voicing issues…but overall, it was a successful performance. I was able to connect with the audience and communicate with them my passion, connection, musicality and dedication to the music. This was the result of working with my Cognitive Hypnotherapist, who helped to get me from barely being able to perform in front of my boyfriend, to being able to perform a public recital – something which I would never have thought possible without his help.
The truth is, performance anxiety is robbing so many musicians of the ability to express themselves freely, and it’s robbing audiences of the chance to hear what they have to offer. If you think nothing can be done then think again. The fact that you have anxiety is the most normal thing in the world. It means that you really love what you do and want to be able to do it even better.
If you are struggling with your own nerves, then a good place to begin is to start to see those nerves as excitement, not fear. This creates a subtle yet powerful change in your perception, to allow you to be yourself and feel more at ease when performing. When you are out of fear, you are in flow; and when you are in flow, you are naturally tuned out of your anxiety. The ability for you to do this is subtle, and yet incredibly powerful, like flipping a coin. When you have that change of perception your whole world can open up and you can experience a completely new paradigm.
After going on my own incredible journey and training as a performance coach and cognitive hypnotherapist, I am now on a mission to help other musicians break free from the fear and anxiety which is holding them back from playing at their best and truly enjoying their passion. Every single person has the ability to see the world with fresh eyes, and this means that you too, can enjoy performing without fear and insecurity.